A true globalist, Christoph Martin Schmid has worked successfully in film and photography all over the world. His passion for conceptual storytelling and carefully crafted imagery led to the unique visual style that characterises his work. Now with his new book out, “Trouble in Paradise”, Christoph gives Altpick a little insight on his fascination with human nature and storytelling.
AP: Christoph, how did “Trouble in Paradise” come about? Are any of the photos based on real life experiences?
CMS: I specialize in conceptual photographic storytelling and I am fascinated by human nature in all it’s comic absurdity. I do not sketch my stories from direct observation but draw from memories which I rearrange and put into new contexts to come up with the scenarios. So I guess you can say it is based on real life experiences.
AP: How do you begin the process of coming up with the idea for each image? Did you sketch it out first, brainstorm on the idea with a team or did you start with a simple idea that evolved on set or in post production?
CMS: I work in conceptual series which set a theme for the images to be created. Once this theme is defined I think up the scenarios. I usually work on my own in this phase of sketching out the images. Sometimes I bounce some of the ideas with friends, but usually that just results in people declaring me being mad, so it doesn’t help much to discuss the ideas before the shoot. But in post production I work closely with my post producer and we discuss how to design the image in a way that the message can be universally perceived.
AP: Where do you call home? Is it your ideal choice and why? Do you feel a city inspires your creativity?
CMS: I lead a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. The last couple of winters I have spent in Cape Town, which offers fantastic locations and production facilities. During summer I divide my time between New York and Berlin. This moving around between different worlds inspires my creativity. The ideas for the stories in the Trouble In Paradise book originated when my Berlin and New York influenced mindset collided with the locations and the postmodern Anglo-Saxon society present in Cape Town.
AP: Your images sometimes are humorous, does that tie into your personality? How would you describe yourself?
CMS: I am always up for a good laugh, rather looking at the bright side of life. But regarding the humor in my work: maybe humor is simply a funny way of being serious.
AP: I always love to ask people what is their favorite food, but more precisely what is their favorite food ingredient? I happen to like anything with garlic.
CMS: I like freshly ground black pepper and a really good and tasty olive oil as my favourite ingredients.
In the three conceptual chapters of Trouble in Paradise, Christoph presents his impressions of our postmodern society, dominated by the paradox of the self. The individual striving for perfection in an imperfect world. Christoph staged situations showing the subject engaging in ambitious endeavours, which Christoph manages to capture the emotional tension in his work while maintaining a sense of lightheartedness and ease. Trouble in Paradise is now available on Amazon.